Button Sunday

I’m a somewhat lackluster Pink Floyd listener. It’s not them; it’s me. Still, there are some songs I like a lot, and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is one of them. There are specific people the song makes me think of (though the band wrote it as an homage to their bandmate, the late Syd Barrett, as all good songs should, it taps into its listeners’ own feelings, in this case of loss and regret).

Though the following three people are not part of my Crazy Diamond Crew, certainly they were all jewels to me and the people who love them. I honor their memory and am grateful to have known them.

It was my good fortune that the best friend I made at twelve, Lynne, had a whole family of sisters, a brother, aunts, uncles, and cousins who took me in as one of their own. Lynne’s mother Elnora mothered me and I loved her. Elnora had two sisters: Audrey, who fed me, tolerated me, and taught me progressive rummy; and Lil, pictured above trying to hold onto Jess, who was the aunt who got right down amongst us.

Lil was a friend, an accomplice in our shenanigans, and she made the best chocolate pound cake and fried potatoes (we call them “Lil Fries”) ever. Her home was always open, her heart was always giving, and she had the best laugh. Many qualities of these ladies were borrowed for Phillip’s aunts in Three Fortunes in One Cookie. Lil was the last of them. Though she lived far away, her son kept up our tradition of sharing Christmas cards to keep me updated on her declining health. The sisters are all reunited now, and I’m going to imagine them enjoying fish fries with catfish, corn, Lil fries, and Audrey’s divine hushpuppies, long-running card games, and snappy conversations like the ones in my memory.

We knew him online as “Rob,” “Really Rob,” “Cody Frizbee Jr.,” and “Smiling Bagel.” His friends and family knew him as Bob and Uncle Bob. I dubbed him St. Louis’s Ambassador because his posts and photos about his home city made me want to visit there so much. He loved opera, books, and art. He had a talent for growing things and liked to cook and bake. During the time that I knew him, he loved his dog Nickie DaDoggĂ© and his cat Oskar LaChat. When they were gone, he adopted his fabulous dog Mlle. Renee in 2009. I absolutely loved his stories about and pictures of Renee. In addition to being online friends, we exchanged many letters, cards, and gifts through the years. Though I never was able to meet him in person, I’m grateful he became part of our online group of friends and my life. I’m not sure who has Renee now, but I know Rob, Nickie, and Oskar will be her family again one day at the Rainbow Bridge. Thank you, Rob, for your many kindnesses, your friendship, and your loyalty as a reader.

Some people coast through your life for a brief time and change it forever. I was a bit player in this story, and it’s not mine to tell. But this gentleman had such a profound effect on our lives that I borrowed part of his name for one of my characters. The character, though unpublished, is still with me always and is one of my muses. The person whose name he took has been gone from our lives for a long time; he actually died a couple of years ago, but we only just found out. It’s not really a goodbye when you remain so alive in my memory and my work, but I do mourn on behalf of all those who lost you as a daily presence in their lives.

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun. Shine on you crazy diamond.

Photo Friday, No. 550

Current Photo Friday theme: Perspective

Rumor has it that I may have access to the library of my digital photos soon. But for this week, I’m going old school. It’s August of 1998, and that person in the distance is Tom walking on the rocky beach of Los Padres National Forest on the California coast. These were the days when I shot film and hoped for the best, never knowing what would come back to me when it was developed. Anticipation was part of the fun.

through the years

In the years after Steve died in 1992, I always took a cake to work on his birthday. Sometimes Lynne made the cake, sometimes I did. After I didn’t work there anymore, I still made him a birthday cake, and there have been many different friends who’ve shared his birthday with us, first at The Compound and now at Houndstooth Hall. This year Steve’s birthday fell on Friday–usually Craft Night–but The Brides are in Austin for softball, and Tim is housesitting. So it was only Tom, Debby, Lynne, and me, a nice gathering to celebrate Steve’s life. As happened long ago, Lynne was nice enough to decorate the cake I’d baked. Steve and I met through the bookstore where we were both managers, so I used the book cake pan and the usual Winnie the Pooh characters with a bookish theme. Lynne did a great job–and we all did a stellar job of eating it!

Later, it was a breezy night so we lit tiki torches with some mosquito repellant and enjoyed conversation on the patio. Tim’s dogs stayed inside to keep company with his little foster dog Leo, who’s still recovering from pneumonia. The rest of the pack, along with Lynne’s, wore themselves out playing in the yard. We like to pretend we moved here for the dogs to enjoy a big yard. But honestly…